Most event professionals have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest—the social media website that shares beautiful photos. On one hand, it’s brimming with design trends that can inspire our events. On the other hand, it has a way of giving clients unrealistic expectations of what their event could look like without the very real price tag that comes with it.
How to cope?
1. Be honest about what’s unattainable.
Unfortunately, we just can’t re-create every Pinterest design if we’re on a tight budget or in a limited space. This often puts us in the position of letting our clients down gently. No one wants to hear that they can’t have what they want, so it’s up to us as professionals to educate our clients on what we can and cannot accommodate.
You know the capabilities of your business better than anyone. When communicating expectations with clients, honesty should be your first and foremost priority. Most of the time, it’s fairly easy to tell straightaway whether or not a client’s vision is attainable. Address your concerns outright, and do your best to explain in layman’s terms why your services can’t necessarily achieve what they’re looking for.
Don’t build a barrier and thereby convince your client to go elsewhere. The client likely doesn’t understand the logistics that go into the installation of an elaborate lighting installation, for example, so try your hand at using visuals to convey this to them, as well.
When we can’t stretch the budget, we educate our clients on pricing, which the majority of our clients appreciate. Many are shocked at what a Pinterest design can truly cost, which can quickly deflate an excited client. Be honest, but deliver the message nicely. Sometimes all your client needs is to have their design put into perspective.
2. Provide alternatives.
After breaking the bad news, we go right into discussing how we can shave down the estimate and still provide the client with a similar look. It’s easier for them to handle the disappointment when they see that we have our own ideas. It may not be their perfect Pinterest vision, but most clients are grateful to see more cost-effective alternatives.
In the end, it’s our job to make sure their dream comes to life, and sometimes that just takes a bit of creativity. We are usually able to offer something that achieves their desired look, albeit on a smaller or simpler scale.
It can also be helpful to explain that what they see on Pinterest is generally on a celebrity-budget scale, and often these extravagant events are for much larger venues and crowds. If you pull up their event space as a visual aid, most clients will realize that their space is likely smaller and doesn’t require such a large installation.
3. Work together to identify (and overcome) obstacles.
Other than budget restrictions, the other major obstacle we face with Pinterest clients is that they don’t often compare their saved designs to photos of their venue.
For example, a board filled with rustic barn wedding details likely won’t make sense if the client is planning a celebration at a winery. It’s not always about design though; sometimes, a desired setup is not logistically feasible because of the venue’s parameters. We sometimes have clients who want large floral or chandelier fixtures overhead, only to find that their venue has low ceilings.
The solution to both of these obstacles is education. Again, sit down with your clients and look at pictures of their venue. Discuss the details they love about their saved images on Pinterest and explain to them what will and will not work based on their space. If, by chance, they’re still a bit up in the air on securing a venue, you can always make a few appropriate suggestions based on the design that they may have their heart set on--just make sure that you’re mindful of their budget and time frame.
As long as you’re ready to dive in to their vision and work around their constraints, most clients are appeased when they realize you have other options to suit their needs. More often than not, we are able to compromise and find a happy medium. It all boils down to communication and education, so be open with your clients about all the possibilities.
At the end of the day, remind them that a Pinterest wedding isn’t original--that’s why it’s on Pinterest. Instead, show them that you can work together to infuse some of the styles they love while keeping it unique and one of a kind.
Kevin Dennis is the editor of WeddingIQ and the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, Calif. He is the past president for Silicon Valley NACE and national vice president for WIPA.